House Democratic Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the following statement regarding last-minute legislative approval of the governor’s proposal to restructure the Youngstown City School system which was included in House Bill 70, a bill originally designed to make Community Learning Centers an official state education model:
“This amendment does not represent real, substantive education reform that will benefit our children. This is nothing more than an 11th-hour power-grab crafted behind closed doors that will lead to the state takeover of public schools.
“The governor threatened to take over Youngstown schools and turn them over to private charter school operators, and now his dream is becoming reality. This legislation isn’t limited to just Youngstown City Schools, but will affect any school district that falls into academic distress. We may be talking about Youngstown today, but the state could soon move to tighten its grip around Trotwood or Dayton City Schools.
“This amendment corrupts a bill that would otherwise provide for a holistic, community-based learning model that would actually benefit our children. What was meant to be an organic, collaborative model for improving our public schools has been poisoned by a top-down measure that will shift resources away from the classroom and into the pockets of for-profit charter school operators.
“This plan literally gives away the keys to our public schools to a “CEO” that has the power to shut down the entire district should he or she so choose. The lights in our classrooms could go dark if all of our children are pushed into failing, for-profit charter schools.
“Instead of working with community leaders, elected officials, parents, and teachers, the administration is strong-arming a plan that takes away local control and empowers an unaccountable governing body that may not understand the unique and diverse challenges local communities face.”